NEW YORK, 7th September, 2016 (WAM) — The United Nations food relief agency, World Food Programme, has delivered urgently-needed aid to more than 30,000 people in and around the northern Iraqi town of Qayyarah in the past week, finally reaching an area that has been under siege and inaccessible for more than two years.

“The people of Qayyarah had been living under siege for two years and are suffering extreme hunger with scarce access to food supplies. Reaching them with life-saving food assistance is a very positive step forward,” the UN World Food Programme’s Country Director, Sally Haydock, said in a news release.

With military action turning towards retaking Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from Daesh, the UN Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees had warned that displacement may worsen dramatically, and announced preparations to increase operations and set up additional camps.

Last week, WFP and its humanitarian partners assessed the situation in Qayyarah, 60 kilometres south of Mosul, and found that all of the people remaining in the town were in urgent need of food and other forms of humanitarian assistance. All of its shops were either destroyed or closed, and food stocks were running dangerously low, with people surviving only on wheat from the recent harvest.

According to WFP, safe drinking water, electricity and medical services remain nearly impossible to access.

Through its local partners, Muslim Aid and Women Empowerment Organisation, the UN agency in the past week distributed emergency food rations containing ready-to-eat foods such as dates, beans and canned foods, to meet families’ immediate needs, as well as monthly food rations.

The rations will provide enough food for more than 30,000 people for a full month. WFP also distributed food to almost 2,000 displaced people living in camps and with host families in areas surrounding Qayyarah.

More than three million Iraqis have been displaced by conflict since mid-June 2014. Over the last two years, people from the Qayyarah area fled to camps in Erbil, Kirkuk and Salah al-Din, where they receive regular food assistance through WFP’s partners.

WFP is scaling up its food assistance in Iraq to support newly displaced families from the Mosul area. To continue to assist displaced families in the country until the end of the year, WFP urgently requires US$106million.

WAM/Ahlam/Moran